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Phil Murphy’s First Month in Office

J.T. Dolan, Staff Writer

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New Jersey’s 56th governor was sworn into office on January 16, 2018. The Democrat comes after two terms from Republican Chris Christie, a famously unpopular governor who made history for the lowest approval rating a New Jersey governor had ever seen, and the fourth most unpopular governor ever with an approval rating of 14%. After making many promises on the campaign trail from making New Jersey a 100% clean energy state by 2050 to a $15 per hour minimum wage to legalizing marijuana, a look at his first month in office could show his effectiveness as the new governor of New Jersey in the long haul. Keep in mind this is not everything he has done but highlights some of the larger moments.

Net Neutrality

A large debate about the future of the internet and its regulation has been taking place in the FCC and US Congress. Pro-net neutrality advocates say that the rule to treat all internet trafficking equally helps competition for companies who want to start a business that is internet-based and also helps those with only one internet provider in their area avoid being taken advantage of, while opponents say that this hurts the free market and does not solve a problem that even exists. Phil Murphy signed an executive order February 5, 2018, which required New Jersey to establish net neutrality protections that were recently appealed by the Trump appointed FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. New Jersey cannot make these rules state law, but the order does say that if an internet company does not abide by these rules, the state will no longer do business with them. He also made the announcement that New Jersey would join 22 other states in a lawsuit that challenges the FTC in their rollback of the Obama-supported net neutrality regulations.

NJ Transit

Phil Murphy made many promises on the campaign trail to make improvements to the NJ Transit system, saying that the transportation service has changed from what was a national model to a national “disgrace”. On January 22, 2018, Phil Murphy announced at the Summit Train Station that he would order an audit on the NJ Transit system’s finances, customer service, leadership, and more. Murphy added that commuters are “mad as heck” and deserve “a better experience”. However, when asked what he would do if the audit said that fare hikes were needed to help run NJ Transit, Phil Murphy said that he didn’t think the outcome would be likely.

Medicinal Marijuana

Legalizing marijuana was an issue that Phil Murphy frequented during his campaign for governor; he said that he hoped to legalize the drug for recreational use within 100 days in a move he hopes will bring in $300 million in taxes and lower the arrest rate for minority children. On January 23, 2018, Murphy ordered a 60-day review of the state medical marijuana program, saying that he was in favor of home delivery, purchases beyond 2-ounces and allowing the opening of more medical marijuana dispensaries. Murphy also said that he hopes to make it easier for medical patients to obtain cannabis more easily than before his administration. Murphy also had people with him during his “A Fairer New Jersey: Expanding Access to Medical Marijuana” event, including 18-year-old Charles Griebel, who was prescribed marijuana for PTSD but also said it helps his Tourettes Syndrome greatly. The Princeton student, who will be attending Rutgers University soon, says that the cannabis he vapes and consumes as a butter allowed him to have “only 6 absences this year, compared to 80 last year”. Murphy said he hopes his support will help “patients be given the compassion they deserve”.

Environment

Phil Murphy reversed a Christie-era policy to rejoin the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative on January 29, 2018. This was a regional pact that was designed to fight climate change through a multi-state cap-and-trade agreement. In this agreement, power plant operators have to buy a number of credits, which allow them to admit a certain amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. There is a limited amount of these carbon credits that are bought at auctions every three months. The money from these auctions is then put into energy efficiency projects and renewable energy sources. Murphy also said that since New Jersey left the agreement that they had lost $279 in revenue. Phil Murphy also signed an executive order on January 31, 2018, that told the administration to develop a plan that would generate 3,500 megawatts of power generation by 2030 using offshore wind power.

Picture from Murphy for NJ

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